If you’re anything like me, you consider Jackie Collins’ words to be about as insightful and comprehensible to your life as those incomprehensible furniture instructions printed who knows where. Yet Ms. Collins seems to believe that she can help Victoria Beckham. Perhaps Ms. Collins is attempting to atone for past conversational setbacks. Or perhaps she’s alarmed that Tony Danza didn’t follow her advice to get his nipples pierced in order to ward off evil eidolons. Either way, I’m awaiting the inevitable novel fictionalizing Ms. Collins’ admonishments, Fool Me Spice, Shame on Me.
It wouldn’t be a Tuesday without a Lethem story. (Hell, it would be Tuesday without a Collins story. But I’ve already blown that promise and you can send your disused prophylactics to me by mail in protest.) It appears that Boston musicians are creating an original song from the lyrics in Lethem’s upcoming novel, You Don’t Love Me Yet. The winning song will be unfurled at Lethem Central and it will be performed at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on March 27. Whether this will translate into a Clap Your Hands-style indie hit through the Internet or an unsettling choice at your karaoke bar of choice remains anyone’s guess.
Cathy Young offers this disingenuous claim: “Respectable modern-day literature has no shortage of derivative works: What are Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead or John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius but Hamlet fanfics?” I think not. There’s a fundamental difference between “writers” who labor over bad prose describing Kirk schtupping Spock and writers like Stoppard offering a witty and separately realized tale of two overlooked bumblers. In Hamlet, R&G were little more than minor characters with scant attributes. Plus, I don’t believe international copyright law applies to works published in 1599. Besides, it’s not as if Updike and Stoppard are going to other characters for the majority of their work. Updike and Stoppard have indelible characters like Rabbit Angstrom and Moon to fuel their respective imaginations. Fanfic writers, by contrast, often have no narrative ideas other than derivative stories involving characters they don’t own or have not created. Further, they are often inept with subject-verb agreement. I advise novice writers to toil at such infecundities at their own peril. What’s more, Ms. Young has also taken Lee Goldberg’s comments out of context. But then one would expect no less of a self-acknowledged fan fiction writer accustomed to absconding with characters she has neither the right nor the talent to tinker with. (And lest I be accused of attacking Ms. Young’s character, let’s let her fiction speak for itself. This story reveals such blunders as “Xena’s voice spilled into his reverie.” You mean, Xena’s voice is liquid as opposed to aural? Who knew? Or how about: “Back in his leather pants, Ares came out into the main room of the house.” The prepositional phrase is unnecessary. We’re already in the goddam house. The words “out into” are oxymoronic. And what in the hell does that dreadful clause about the leather pants have to do with the sentence’s purpose? I could examine this dreadful prose at length, but I’d rather spend a weekend hiring someone to saw my limbs off.)